This week, Iran announced a new and potentially more telling promotion: The new Quds Force deputy commander will be Gen. Muhammad Hussein-Zada Hejazi, who most recently commanded the Quds Force’s Lebanon Corps, overseeing Iran’s ties to Hezbollah and the Quds Force activities throughout the Levant more broadly.
The message behind Hejazi’s promotion is clear: Soleimani may be dead, but the Quds Force he led lives on, and is taking active measures to ensure it is able to continue pursuing the regional strategy he championed.
Forced to rebuild the proxy management and command and control mechanisms that Soleimani once ran himself by force of personality and longtime connections, Iran is developing a new strategy to oversee what Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei described as “fighters without borders.” And the strategy comes down to this: Since no one commander can replace Soleimani, Iran’s proxy network will now be run by committee, with the Quds Force cobbling together a crew of its more senior and experienced managers to collectively fill the roles Soleimani had taken on himself. Key leaders of Iranian proxy groups, especially Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, are sure to play major roles. But policymakers should pay especially close attention to personnel shifts and promotions within the Quds Force itself.